Kennett Sq. council addresses tragedy, community relations

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By Eliza Mohler, Staff Writer, The Times

HARB member Clara Saxton addresses Borough Council members about the impact of the 2016 election results on the borough’s recent political races.

KENNETT SQUARE – They were at the Red Clay Room to discuss the 2018 budget, but recent events were front and center at last Monday night’s meeting of the Kennett Square Borough Council.

Mayor Matt Fetick praised Kennett Fire Company No. 1 for their assistance efforts at the fire that claimed the lives of four people at the Barclay Friends senior living community in West Chester on November 16.

“It was one of the worst fires in Chester County history,” he said. “There’s so much credit that needs to go to our volunteer firefighters. The next time you see a Kennett firefighter, please thank them. It was a difficult night for them emotionally, and there were over 200 of them there.”

During public comments at the start of the meeting, resident and HARB committee member Clara Saxton addressed the council about the negative impact of the 2016 general election on the 2017 election races in the borough, especially in regard to social media.

“Our current national psyche is damaging every aspect of life,” Saxton said. “My hope was that our local election of 2017 would not descend into rage and ranting. Unfortunately, that was not the entire case.”

“The job now is to finish out this year in a true spirit of cooperation and to move forward to 2018 and beyond with a solid commitment on the part of every individual to work for the improvement of this borough,” she added. “That doesn’t stop with the elected officials or borough staff, but means every person who lives, works, worships, shops, reads, dines or in any way enjoys the benefit of this borough.”

Advisory Coalition on Latino Affairs member Kathleen Snyder gave a report on the coalition’s recent activities, which include working to promote unification in the borough, providing legal and civil rights education for Latino immigrants, and assisting individuals with filing for citizenship and renewing DACA statuses.

Snyder said, “We hope Mayor Fetick can make our December meeting. We’ve been trying to catch with him.” Fetick smiled in response. Snyder also reminded the council that ACOLA is there to work with them and will be submitting recommendations to the council about items that are of interest to the commission.

The main portion of the meeting was a second presentation of the proposed 2018 budget for the borough, as narrated by Borough Manager Joe Scalise. The total proposed budget for 2018 is $11,804,171. Scalise said the documents pertaining to the budget will be made available for public viewing. The council will next meet on Monday, December 4 to vote on the budget, and if it’s decided then, the meeting scheduled for Monday, December 11 will be canceled. Scalise said that he, council member Wayne Braffman, or Vice President Geoff Bosley are available to meet with residents to discuss the budget upon request.

Bosley said about the budget, “It’s much more user-friendly than it has been in the past.” President Danilo Maffei thanked Scalise and finance director Lisa Ionata for their work.

The council voted to opt out of participating in a new state project that will allow four new licensed gaming facilities in Pennsylvania. Local municipalities were given the option to opt out of permitting such a facility to be built in their area by December 31, 2017, but they can opt back in at a later date if they choose.

Mary Hutchins gave an update about Historic Kennett Square’s upcoming holiday activities. The holiday shuttle between Kennett and Longwood Gardens is running between November 25 through December 30. There will be carriage rides offered on December 3, 10, and 17. Hutchins said that the new joint borough and Kennett Township Director of Economic Development, Nate Echeverria, starts work on Monday, December 4.

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